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Murder at No. 4 Euston Square: The Mystery of the Lady in the Cellar

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Someone must have known what happened to Matilda Hacker. For someone in that house had killed her. So how could the murderer prove so elusive? Standing four storeys tall in an elegant Bloomsbury terrace, No. 4, Euston Square was a well-kept, respectable boarding house. But beneath this genteel Victorian London veneer lay murderous intrigue. On 9 May 1879, the body of a forme Someone must have known what happened to Matilda Hacker. For someone in that house had killed her. So how could the murderer prove so elusive? Standing four storeys tall in an elegant Bloomsbury terrace, No. 4, Euston Square was a well-kept, respectable boarding house. But beneath this genteel Victorian London veneer lay murderous intrigue. On 9 May 1879, the body of a former resident, Matilda Hacker, was discovered by chance in the coal cellar. The ensuing investigation – led by Inspector Charles Hagen, rising star of the recently formed CID – stripped bare the dark side of Victorian domesticity. In this true-crime story, Sinclair McKay meticulously evaluates the evidence in first-hand sources. His gripping account sheds new light on a mystery that eluded Scotland Yard. ‘With the gusto of a penny dreadful, Murder at No. 4 Euston Road dodges any stodgy courtroom testimony that can weigh down true crime stories and sticks to the juicy details. It is hard to avoid the comparison with Kate Summerscale’s The Suspicions of Mr Whicher and it has similar historical richness and plot twisting…’ The Spectator 'Sinclair McKay is an accomplished and talented author with a rare skill... True crime fans and history buffs will enjoy this book, coming away with an enthralling true crime story and a new knowledge and understanding of Victorian London.' Crime Traveller ‘Gripping, gothic and deeply poignant’ Mail on Sunday ‘A meticulously researched book’ - Brian Viner, Daily Mail


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Someone must have known what happened to Matilda Hacker. For someone in that house had killed her. So how could the murderer prove so elusive? Standing four storeys tall in an elegant Bloomsbury terrace, No. 4, Euston Square was a well-kept, respectable boarding house. But beneath this genteel Victorian London veneer lay murderous intrigue. On 9 May 1879, the body of a forme Someone must have known what happened to Matilda Hacker. For someone in that house had killed her. So how could the murderer prove so elusive? Standing four storeys tall in an elegant Bloomsbury terrace, No. 4, Euston Square was a well-kept, respectable boarding house. But beneath this genteel Victorian London veneer lay murderous intrigue. On 9 May 1879, the body of a former resident, Matilda Hacker, was discovered by chance in the coal cellar. The ensuing investigation – led by Inspector Charles Hagen, rising star of the recently formed CID – stripped bare the dark side of Victorian domesticity. In this true-crime story, Sinclair McKay meticulously evaluates the evidence in first-hand sources. His gripping account sheds new light on a mystery that eluded Scotland Yard. ‘With the gusto of a penny dreadful, Murder at No. 4 Euston Road dodges any stodgy courtroom testimony that can weigh down true crime stories and sticks to the juicy details. It is hard to avoid the comparison with Kate Summerscale’s The Suspicions of Mr Whicher and it has similar historical richness and plot twisting…’ The Spectator 'Sinclair McKay is an accomplished and talented author with a rare skill... True crime fans and history buffs will enjoy this book, coming away with an enthralling true crime story and a new knowledge and understanding of Victorian London.' Crime Traveller ‘Gripping, gothic and deeply poignant’ Mail on Sunday ‘A meticulously researched book’ - Brian Viner, Daily Mail

30 review for Murder at No. 4 Euston Square: The Mystery of the Lady in the Cellar

  1. 5 out of 5

    Beata

    *Many thanks to the Author, Quatro Publishing Group and Netgally for granting my wish in exchange for my honest review.* Sinclair McKay wrote a book which is definitely worth reading if you are interested in true crime and the Victorian times. I wanted to read The Lady in the Cellar as some years ago I read a short article about the mysterious case of a woman who was killed, and discovered after some time at 4, Euston Square. Killed? Murdered? McKay undertook Herculean effort to try to investigat *Many thanks to the Author, Quatro Publishing Group and Netgally for granting my wish in exchange for my honest review.* Sinclair McKay wrote a book which is definitely worth reading if you are interested in true crime and the Victorian times. I wanted to read The Lady in the Cellar as some years ago I read a short article about the mysterious case of a woman who was killed, and discovered after some time at 4, Euston Square. Killed? Murdered? McKay undertook Herculean effort to try to investigate and uncover the truth. The amount of information regarding the dramatis personae is incredible. Moreover, the Author provides us with lots and lots of details about Victorian London and rituals and customs behind room letting. Also, it took many months of research into newspapers and court procedures to present this case as meticulously as possible and yet, the book reads smoothly till the very last page. I highly recommend it to anyone interested in an intiguing case of a Victorian murder.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Fran

    The Boarding House..."introduced a measure of enforced proximity with strangers...in the nature of such houses unexpected intimacy could be sparked; occasionally with the darkest consequences...". Many boarding houses were furnished with heavy curtains and carpets giving the illusion of safety, protection from the cold, and from chaotic street noise. Severin Bastendorff and wife Mary leased a boarding house at 4,Euston Square, Bloomsbury. The household seemed elegant and respectable. Severin and The Boarding House..."introduced a measure of enforced proximity with strangers...in the nature of such houses unexpected intimacy could be sparked; occasionally with the darkest consequences...". Many boarding houses were furnished with heavy curtains and carpets giving the illusion of safety, protection from the cold, and from chaotic street noise. Severin Bastendorff and wife Mary leased a boarding house at 4,Euston Square, Bloomsbury. The household seemed elegant and respectable. Severin and his ten employees made well received and greatly valued bamboo furniture in a detached workshop behind the lodging. 4, Euston Square was a house with secrets soon to be unearthed. There had been a shortage of paying guests. When businessman Mr. Brooks planned to move into their most expensive apartment, Mary and maid-servant Hannah Dobbs readied the rooms. Room rental costs did not include coal for the resident's fire. A section of the coal cellar needed to be emptied to accommodate Mr. Brooks's coal supplies. In rearranging the coal cellar, a large bone from the decomposed, soon to be identified, body of 60ish lodger Matilda Hacker was found. Remnants of an elegant black silk dress and a decorative brooch were found near the body. Eccentric spinster Matilda Hacker always dressed in extravagant, outlandish clothing befitting a young miss. Despite being a rich property owner, she refused to pay dues and taxes. Trying to constantly elude authorities, she switched lodgings frequently registering under a variety of pseudonyms. Matilda Hacker, registered at Euston Square as Miss Uish, disappeared on May 8, 1879. Arguably, Matilda's body had been buried under coal in the cellar for two years. It was up to Inspector Charles Hagan to try to unmask the murderer. Who did it? Was it the maid-servant, Hannah Dobbs? Why did she pawn Matilda's gold watch? Why was Mary Bastendorff unfamiliar with her boarder Matilda? Did Severin Bastendorff have a "special connection" to Hannah Dobbs? Why was the description of a prisoner's beard significant? "The Lady in the Cellar: Murder, Scandal and Insanity in Victorian Bloomsbury" by Sinclair McKay is an unsolved true crime read. Author McKay's presentation of the facts, suppositions and theories make for a fascinating read. Highly recommended. Thank you Quatro Publishing Group-White Lion Publishing and Net Galley for the opportunity to read and review "The Lady in the Cellar".

  3. 4 out of 5

    BAM Endlessly Booked

    Netgalley #26 Many thanks go to Sinclair McKay, Quarto Publishing, and Netgalley for the free copy of this book in exchange for my unbiased review.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Robin Bonne

    This is a dramatic, true crime account of a murdered woman found in the basement of a Victorian boarding house. Was it the maid? Was it another boarder? Was it the landlord or his brother? I was kept guessing. The random twists and turns, plus the aftermath of this case was bizarre, and kept me reading to find out what happened next. Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for a free copy of this ebook in exchange for an unbiased review.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Alice-Elizabeth (Prolific Reader Alice)

    I swear that this year for me personally, has been the year I've binged read Victorian true crime books. That hasn't happened to me before haha. Anyway, The Lady In The Cellar is a real-life crime in the year 1879, when the corpse of a woman is discovered in the cellar of a posh London home in Euston Square. Through tracking down a relative of the victim, she is revealed to be Matilda Hacker, a former resident of the house in which her corpse was found in. What happens next doesn't just shock Lo I swear that this year for me personally, has been the year I've binged read Victorian true crime books. That hasn't happened to me before haha. Anyway, The Lady In The Cellar is a real-life crime in the year 1879, when the corpse of a woman is discovered in the cellar of a posh London home in Euston Square. Through tracking down a relative of the victim, she is revealed to be Matilda Hacker, a former resident of the house in which her corpse was found in. What happens next doesn't just shock London and the rest of the country, it also destroys the lives of two different families forever. A slow-paced read but both gripping and shocking. The ending moved a little quickly for my liking. Historically, this was a very good read.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Valerity (Val)

    On May 9th, 1879, at No. 4, Euston Square boarding house a body was found in the coal cellar by the errand boy. The house was run by the Bastendorffs. The obvious crime was investigated by Inspector Hagen of the CID. The body was so grotesquely decomposed that it made identification very difficult. It was eventually identified as Matilda Hacker, who was a previous tenant. The book follows the investigation and is a rather good true crime read. It contains some good information on this Victorian- On May 9th, 1879, at No. 4, Euston Square boarding house a body was found in the coal cellar by the errand boy. The house was run by the Bastendorffs. The obvious crime was investigated by Inspector Hagen of the CID. The body was so grotesquely decomposed that it made identification very difficult. It was eventually identified as Matilda Hacker, who was a previous tenant. The book follows the investigation and is a rather good true crime read. It contains some good information on this Victorian-age murder and is well researched. I really enjoy this type of old British true crime book. Advance electronic review copy was provided by NetGalley, author Sinclair McKay, and the publisher.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Calzean

    In the world before DNA and modern forensics, police relied on confessions to solve most crimes. If there was no confession then logic had to be used as Mr Holmes said "when you have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth". In this well written true crime story neither confession or logic was able to provide an answer as to the mysterious death in Number 4 Euston Square. The author provides both a well laid out series of the events and characters involv In the world before DNA and modern forensics, police relied on confessions to solve most crimes. If there was no confession then logic had to be used as Mr Holmes said "when you have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth". In this well written true crime story neither confession or logic was able to provide an answer as to the mysterious death in Number 4 Euston Square. The author provides both a well laid out series of the events and characters involved. He also weaves into his book interesting and relevant aspects of the police, society and values of the 1870 and 1880s London. Maybe the most depressing parts were the ghoulish response by the hoi polloi and the treatment of the insane.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Cassidy (Reminders of the Changing Time)

    Review available at https://bit.ly/2GxL88A Review available at https://bit.ly/2GxL88A

  9. 4 out of 5

    Caitlyn Lynch

    This might be one of the most incredible true-crime books I’ve ever read - and I’ve read plenty. If you wrote this case as fiction, it would be derided as too ridiculous to be believed. However, it all really happened in the late 1870s, and reading it is an absolutely fascinating insight into both the lives of everyday Londoners and the methods of police investigations at the time. (I also found out about the Illustrated Police News, which was basically the first printed sensationalist tabloid an This might be one of the most incredible true-crime books I’ve ever read - and I’ve read plenty. If you wrote this case as fiction, it would be derided as too ridiculous to be believed. However, it all really happened in the late 1870s, and reading it is an absolutely fascinating insight into both the lives of everyday Londoners and the methods of police investigations at the time. (I also found out about the Illustrated Police News, which was basically the first printed sensationalist tabloid and boasted headlines The Onion and The National Enquirer would both be proud of, but I digress). The author’s research is incredibly well done, and he weaves direct quotes from court transcripts, police interviews, newspaper articles and other sources seamlessly into his narration of the story, while using beautifully descriptive language to paint a picture of London in the latter part of the 19th century, with uncontrolled immigration bringing skilled migrants from across Europe to ply their trades serving the rising middle class. At the time, there were rising numbers of domestic servants in London households too, and an awkward dynamic between servants and masters who were really not far apart at all on the social scale. These dynamics and relationships are superbly explored in the book, as they are essential to understanding what may have happened in the case which transfixed a nation. Some of the things which happened are frankly incredible to modern sensibilities, such as the partly decayed body of the victim being displayed to the public in an attempt to get an identification. Queues for viewing stretched around the block. When I mentioned this to a friend who has an interest in Victorian literature, she laughed and said “Yeah, Victorians were hardcore!” Quite apart from a fascinating look at a never-solved murder, this is a wonderful resource for any writer interested in writing Victorian fiction. Sinclair McKay’s writing will plant you deep in the 1870s and 1880s, alongside tradesmen rising to the middle class, servants who were choosing their own positions and demanding better working conditions, a London which was thriving and growing at a rate faster than many could even comprehend. This might be the best true crime book I’ve ever read. It’s certainly the best I’ve read this year. If you have the slightest interest in Victorian era crime and police work, you will definitely want to read it. Wish I could give it more than five stars. Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book for review through NetGalley.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Elaine

    Thank you to NetGalley for a Kindle ARC of The Lady in the Cellar. I'm not a big fan of nonfiction; okay, I barely read nonfiction unless its hyped but when I read the description of The Lady in the Cellar, I was intrigued. In 19th century London, in the cellar of a boarding house in a respectable neighborhood, the dead body of a woman in her late fifties to early sixties is discovered. The author traces the origins of the murder victim, her social background and the people in her social or Thank you to NetGalley for a Kindle ARC of The Lady in the Cellar. I'm not a big fan of nonfiction; okay, I barely read nonfiction unless its hyped but when I read the description of The Lady in the Cellar, I was intrigued. In 19th century London, in the cellar of a boarding house in a respectable neighborhood, the dead body of a woman in her late fifties to early sixties is discovered. The author traces the origins of the murder victim, her social background and the people in her social orbit; the landlord and his wife, his growing family and the sly maid by the name of Hannah Dobbs, who is later accused and acquitted of the old woman's death. But the story doesn't stop there; the repercussions of finding a dead body in the cellar has negative consequences to almost all involved, including the immigrant landlord, who was forging a decent and respectable life for himself and his family. The first half of the book sets the tone and setting of industrialized London, the growing misconceptions of urban and suburban life and boarding houses, and always, the difficult adjustment period all immigrants face when emigrating to a new country with strange food, customs and rules. The second half of the book deals with the aftermath of the trial, the negative consequences and impact of it, mental institutions, mental illness and the continuing stigma surrounding a person with mental illness. I enjoyed the tone and background of 19th century London and the old timey, fun timey atmosphere but the narrative was bogged down in repetition; constant summarizing of Hannah Dobb's testimony, the libel suit that was filed; it all felt dragged out, much like an actual court case. I was more intrigued by Hannah herself; what happened to her? Did she assume a new identity? Go back to her hometown and become a farmer? The author mentions Hannah seems to fall off the grid after the sensational trial. Did he try looking for her whereabouts? I do realize its much easier to disappear back then than it would be to do so now. What about the strange relationship between the landlord and his brother, Peter? What was up with that? I was hoping for a true crime recap about the lady in the cellar, but this read more like a sociological study of the mores and customs of 19th century London, which is fine, if you're into that. I'm not.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Jo

    McKay looks at the case of a body found in the cellar of a London lodging house in the late 19th century. The discovery and the subsequent investigation and trial drew attention to the lives of the householders and had longlasting effects on those involved. This was a fascinating story which was sadly never properly solved. There was a fair bit of conjecture from the author towards the end of the book but overall this was well-written and the narrative flowed at an energetic pace.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Kayleigh

    ♡ wordpress ♡ tumblr ♡ instagram ♡ twitter ♡ _____________________________ DNF. Regardless of what I think of this read, the descriptive prowess within it is amazing. I can only wish that I held the same capacity for adjectives and metaphors that Sinclair McKay has. My main issue with this book is that the narrative is gruelling. There's not much dialogue, or introspection to break up the narrative, there just seems to be overwrought long explanations of everything . I literally kept zoning o ♡ wordpress ♡ tumblr ♡ instagram ♡ twitter ♡ _____________________________ DNF. Regardless of what I think of this read, the descriptive prowess within it is amazing. I can only wish that I held the same capacity for adjectives and metaphors that Sinclair McKay has. My main issue with this book is that the narrative is gruelling. There's not much dialogue, or introspection to break up the narrative, there just seems to be overwrought long explanations of everything . I literally kept zoning out and struggled to get as far as I did (36%) before I put it down. There felt like there were lots of bland dates, facts and events to remember than I just wasn't interested in in the first place. Nothing was left to the imagination. There is a complex and detailed history of everything from side characters I'd had no previous knowledge of before an introduction occurred and an immediately intricate backstory followed to Jacobian sideboards that pique no curiosity from me whatsoever. It really ruined what could have been a dark, enthralling book for me. The Lady in the Cellar: Murder, Scandal and Insanity in Victorian Bloomsbury wasn't my cup of tea. It wasn't even my cup of hot water. Thank you to Net Galley for an ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Bonnye Reed

    GNab I found myself disappointed with the outcome of this true crime story which makes no sense, as it's based on a true crime and the repercussions of said crime on the community. It just seemed so unjust, and there was no recourse for most of those suffering the most from this travesty of justice. I felt the most angst for Mary Bastendorff, with all those youngsters.... I would like to think that in our time things would have been handled if not better, then our modern techniques would uncover GNab I found myself disappointed with the outcome of this true crime story which makes no sense, as it's based on a true crime and the repercussions of said crime on the community. It just seemed so unjust, and there was no recourse for most of those suffering the most from this travesty of justice. I felt the most angst for Mary Bastendorff, with all those youngsters.... I would like to think that in our time things would have been handled if not better, then our modern techniques would uncover more and truer information concerning the crime at the root of this problem. Most likely wishful thinking. In any case, Sinclair McKay brings to us all the known facts of this crime which affected so many people before it was over. The Lady in the Cellar made me very grateful to be living in our time. I received a free electronic copy of this true crime drama from Netgalley, Sinclair McKay, and White Lion Publishing in exchange for an honest review. Thank you all for sharing your hard work with me. pub date October 30, 2018 White Lion Publishing

  14. 5 out of 5

    Elizabeth

    Number 4 Euston Square was a respectable boarding house, well-kept and hospitable, like many others in Victorian London. But beneath this very ordinary veneer, there was a murderous darkness at its heart. On 8th May 1879, the corpse of former resident, Matilda Hacker, was uncovered by chance in the coal cellar. The investigation that followed this macabre discovery stripped bare the shadow-side of Victorian domesticity, throwing the lives of everyone within into an extraordinary and destructive Number 4 Euston Square was a respectable boarding house, well-kept and hospitable, like many others in Victorian London. But beneath this very ordinary veneer, there was a murderous darkness at its heart. On 8th May 1879, the corpse of former resident, Matilda Hacker, was uncovered by chance in the coal cellar. The investigation that followed this macabre discovery stripped bare the shadow-side of Victorian domesticity, throwing the lives of everyone within into an extraordinary and destructive maelstrom. For someone in Number 4 Euston Square must have had full knowledge of what had happened to Matilda Hacker. Someone in that house had killed her. How could the murderer prove so amazingly elusive? Bestselling author, Sinclair McKay delves into this intriguing story and sheds light on a mystery that eluded the detectives of Scotland Yard. My thoughts: Sadly I'm giving this a 3 star rating , while the story was good and the author give you a lot of information about the case , the people that was involved in it, and the their history as well as the history of the victim , and made you ask questions , there was times that it seemed that the author was writing a study of sociological then about a true crime that took place

  15. 5 out of 5

    Ritika Chhabra

    Follow Just A Girl High On Books for more reviews. Thank you Netgalley for a digital copy of this book. I started reading this book because it's blurb really intrigued me. I've always been a fan of mysteries and this book is based on a real-life mystery of its own so of course, I just had to check it out. And I wasn't the least bit disappointed upon reading it. I mean, it's a great book and I rather enjoyed going through it. Yes, the formatting bothered me a bit but I'm certain that the final copy Follow Just A Girl High On Books for more reviews. Thank you Netgalley for a digital copy of this book. I started reading this book because it's blurb really intrigued me. I've always been a fan of mysteries and this book is based on a real-life mystery of its own so of course, I just had to check it out. And I wasn't the least bit disappointed upon reading it. I mean, it's a great book and I rather enjoyed going through it. Yes, the formatting bothered me a bit but I'm certain that the final copy had much improvements so it works for me, haha! It took me some time to finish this book so although I had a copy with me since November, I couldn't finish it instantly. I would read bits and pieces every now and then and immerse myself in the mystery of Number 4, Euston Square. McKay, in this book, has documented the incidents that surrounded this mystery very carefully. The way he has mentioned things is amazing and yes, I loved his writing style. In fact, time and time again, it reminded me a lot of H.G. Wells (but that is probably because 4, Euston Square was a boarding house when the corpse was discovered and H.G. Wells' Invisible Man takes place in a boarding house). It also reminded me a lot of our mystery classics that we love to read. (Yes, one of them being Invisible Man for me.) But overall, it was a rather intriguing book and I'm really glad that McKay jotted down the mystery of this corpse and I had the chance to read it. :D

  16. 5 out of 5

    Rennie

    This one defied expectations for me. I'm not particularly interested in Victorian-era stories, I usually find trial narratives one of the more tedious elements of true crime, and I'm iffy on true crime that's pre-1940s-ish. I'm so glad I took the chance despite it having all those elements (honestly, I might've only given it a shot for the really attractive cover). This story of a murder discovered nearly two years after it happened in a London boarding house run by the family of a Luxembourg imm This one defied expectations for me. I'm not particularly interested in Victorian-era stories, I usually find trial narratives one of the more tedious elements of true crime, and I'm iffy on true crime that's pre-1940s-ish. I'm so glad I took the chance despite it having all those elements (honestly, I might've only given it a shot for the really attractive cover). This story of a murder discovered nearly two years after it happened in a London boarding house run by the family of a Luxembourg immigrant is populated with a quirky cast of characters from in and around the building, including the dead woman herself as perhaps the quirkiest of them all. It makes for a great truth is stranger than fiction tale and is as twisty-turny as they come. I thought I saw the answer coming a mile away multiple times and was consistently wrong. Fair warning and I don't think a spoiler - it's not definitively resolved what happened to the victim, Matilda Hacker. There are plenty of interesting theories and some likely combination of circumstances is wrapped up in the story told here but it's not certain or even as close as some stories come to being so. I know some people hate that in true crime so be aware. Not knowing for sure doesn't bother me, but there are a few too many rhetorical questions and although the trial testimony and inquiries were far more interesting and better presented than I've read elsewhere, they did make up a little too much of the second half after a first half that's completely riveting and atmospheric. The writing is compelling, I loved the inclusion of other scandalous stories and headliners of the time and detailed but readable context about the city, the community of Germanic subculture and of course, Victorian morality and pearl-clutching at its finest while still obsessing fanatically over the grotesque and gory details. As a bonus, this author has a rich and wonderful vocabulary. I saw words I haven't seen since college, made for unexpectedly delightful reading.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Elizabeth

    It was ok. What I didn't like, looking at it from an American 2019 perspective, was that it seemed obvious that the main suspect was lying through her teeth but no one wanted to acknowledge it. Very frustrating. It was ok. What I didn't like, looking at it from an American 2019 perspective, was that it seemed obvious that the main suspect was lying through her teeth but no one wanted to acknowledge it. Very frustrating.

  18. 4 out of 5

    aimee :)

    So i was expecting quite a fast paced thriller with lots of twists and turns but it turned out to be super slow. You found out the identity within the first few chapters and after that it was pretty boring and kept repeating things. Didn’t really enjoy it but oh well :)

  19. 4 out of 5

    Marjolein (UrlPhantomhive)

    Full review to come!

  20. 4 out of 5

    Thebooktrail

    Booktrail the locations in the novel I’d never heard of this murder in Euston Square in London so this was a fascinating read. Imagine a body found in a cellar which has been there for two years at least? How, even in London with its slums and growing chaotic population does someone go missing without being reported? When it’s a respectable woman in a respectable boarding house, the mystery grows The boarding house was a fascinating mix of immigrants of German and Luxembourg descent. There’s a qui Booktrail the locations in the novel I’d never heard of this murder in Euston Square in London so this was a fascinating read. Imagine a body found in a cellar which has been there for two years at least? How, even in London with its slums and growing chaotic population does someone go missing without being reported? When it’s a respectable woman in a respectable boarding house, the mystery grows The boarding house was a fascinating mix of immigrants of German and Luxembourg descent. There’s a quirky bunch living there and no one seems to have any idea of the body or who it might have been. The police are called and the trial of the century begins.. Apart from being areal life crime story, this is a fascinating look at London itself. The locations sadly are no longer there and I think there should be an old fashioned map in the book as real ones don’t show many of the actual locations! The house is now in the area of Euston Station for example. I also enjoyed the way the main story was enhanced with stories of other scandals and historic events of the time. This is a trial narrative so could have been a bit staid, but it was an fascinating look into London Victorian society at the time. And that poor woman in the cellar. Is the mystery finally solved? I’ll leave that up to you. For me it remains an historically complex mystery on many levels.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Gayle Noble

    When a body is found in the cellar of 4 Euston Square, in Victorian London it sets off a chain reaction of far reaching consequences. Matilda Hacker was an eccentric older lady who rented a room at no. 4 - the home of the Bastendorff family. She was only there a matter of weeks before suddenly taking her leave and disappearing. Did the Bastendorffs have something to do with her disappearance or was their maid, the last person to see Ms Hacker alive, involved? Victorian Britain is one of my favour When a body is found in the cellar of 4 Euston Square, in Victorian London it sets off a chain reaction of far reaching consequences. Matilda Hacker was an eccentric older lady who rented a room at no. 4 - the home of the Bastendorff family. She was only there a matter of weeks before suddenly taking her leave and disappearing. Did the Bastendorffs have something to do with her disappearance or was their maid, the last person to see Ms Hacker alive, involved? Victorian Britain is one of my favourite eras to read about and this book was not a disappointment. I thoroughly enjoyed this reconstruction of the events and characters that appeared in this true crime account. The level of research was plain to see in the detail that was provided by the author, but it never became dry and dull to read. On the contrary, the twists of the court case and the fallout were enthralling. The only criticism I have is that the conclusion seemed a little rushed to me but this is a minor quibble overall. Thanks to NetGalley and publishers, Quarto Publishing Group - White Lion Publishing, for the opportunity to review an ARC.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Karen Barber

    A period in time that fascinates me, and the opening immediately set up the premise of a world where respectable surface behaviour might not always be quite what it appears. This was not a case I knew anything about, and the details revealed in this were shocking but also deeply upsetting in terms of how things developed. The case was, I assume, a much talked about one at the time. The discovery of a body in the cellar of a respectable lodging house. Who had been killed? Who was responsible? How A period in time that fascinates me, and the opening immediately set up the premise of a world where respectable surface behaviour might not always be quite what it appears. This was not a case I knew anything about, and the details revealed in this were shocking but also deeply upsetting in terms of how things developed. The case was, I assume, a much talked about one at the time. The discovery of a body in the cellar of a respectable lodging house. Who had been killed? Who was responsible? How could such an occurrence not have been seen by the residents prior to this? Initially the writer is keen to establish the setting and this is important to understand exactly how such a crime would have been regarded. We are told the home belonged to a married couple, with three children, who took in lodgers and who seemed to run a respectable and much applauded furniture-making business. The crime was investigated by a growing detective team, starting to incorporate what we see as more modern methods of policing. From the outset it is evident that this was a crime that might not be adequately explained. They discovered the victim was an older woman, Matilda Hacker, but nobody seemed able to offer any clear explanation for the crime. What McKay's research lays out for us is a hotbed of deceit and intrigue, where nobody is quite sure who to trust. We are given details of the court case suggesting a former maid might have killed Hacker. The owner of the house is found not guilty initially, but what shocked me was the lurid details printed in the press and his subsequent trial for perjury and incarceration. We never know for certain what his involvement was, but his treatment appears to have contributed greatly to the mental health issues that plagued him for the latter parts of his life. Perhaps it is because of the unresolved nature of this crime but it felt like we got no closure fo rate main victim in this, but it was also evident that few affected by these events went untouched. Thanks to NetGalley for granting me access to this in return for my honest thoughts.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Diane Hernandez

    A long-dead body is found in the captivating, and true, Lady in the Cellar. In London in 1879, many people were looking to make their fortune by living together in boarding houses. In one, at Number 4 Euston Square, a well-to-do older woman’s body is found in the coal cellar. Her putrefied skeletal remains are clothed partially in silk along with a clothesline tied roughly around her neck. Though her time of death is years before, the London constabulary discovers through extremely thorough detec A long-dead body is found in the captivating, and true, Lady in the Cellar. In London in 1879, many people were looking to make their fortune by living together in boarding houses. In one, at Number 4 Euston Square, a well-to-do older woman’s body is found in the coal cellar. Her putrefied skeletal remains are clothed partially in silk along with a clothesline tied roughly around her neck. Though her time of death is years before, the London constabulary discovers through extremely thorough detective work her identity. The victim was Matilda Hacker. She was a wealthy heiress that never married. Despite being in her sixties, she dressed as a young girl. When her sister died, she seemed to have increasing mental issues. Convinced people were stalking her, she frequently used assumed names and moved around England. One such place she moved was Number 4 Euston Square. I loved the great descriptions of how police work was done in England in 1879. Victorian England was a time of significant change in policing. Investigations were beginning to use the scientific method rather than intuition to solve crimes. The setting in London is vivid and makes the reader feel that they are there. However, the plot takes many wrong turns following what the police probably did at the time. It is disconcerting to spend fifty pages on a potential suspect only to have him eliminated in a few paragraphs. Also, the resolution was not what I expected. Some of my hesitancy in recommending Lady in the Cellar for its plot is perhaps my issue with being used to clear conclusions in fiction. I do recommend this book for writers setting their story in the same location and time. 3 stars! Thanks to White Lion Publishing and NetGalley for granting my wish for an advance copy.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Solace

    This was a nonfiction book detailing the infamous murder at no. 4 Euston square in 1879. The author has provided details of not just the police investigation procedures, but also the court trial, what the prosecution and the defence contended, the evidence and witnesses examined, background of each person involved in the case, from the victim and her family, to the police officers involved. The book also contains other information about the time period such as societal changes with respect to bo This was a nonfiction book detailing the infamous murder at no. 4 Euston square in 1879. The author has provided details of not just the police investigation procedures, but also the court trial, what the prosecution and the defence contended, the evidence and witnesses examined, background of each person involved in the case, from the victim and her family, to the police officers involved. The book also contains other information about the time period such as societal changes with respect to boarding houses, morality with respect to extra-marital sex, societal expectations from women, and the treatment of women killers etc. There are also some references to Charles Dickens and other authors of that time. The book also elucidates the treatment of servants and the prevalence of "white slavery" in middle and upper class households. My only qualm with the book is that it's too tedious and boring at times. The book felt as if it could've shorter and some points were repetitive.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Dan Allen

    I thoroughly enjoyed this "true crime" account of a Victorian scandal. The story in itself is amazing and McKay tells it very well. The book reads like a superior thriller. If you enjoyed "The Suspicions of Mr Whicher", this is much better. I had only a couple of minor quibbles. Euston Square where the body was found and the main characters live wasn't, isn't and never will be in Bloomsbury (an area of London famous for its literary associations if you're outside the UK). Presumably the publisher I thoroughly enjoyed this "true crime" account of a Victorian scandal. The story in itself is amazing and McKay tells it very well. The book reads like a superior thriller. If you enjoyed "The Suspicions of Mr Whicher", this is much better. I had only a couple of minor quibbles. Euston Square where the body was found and the main characters live wasn't, isn't and never will be in Bloomsbury (an area of London famous for its literary associations if you're outside the UK). Presumably the publishers added "in Victorian Bloomsbury" to the title in the long held UK publishing belief that "Bloomsbury sells". Second, it's a pity the author didn't add some more about the trial judge, Mr Justice Hawkins - who was a fascinating character himself. Finally, a map would have been a real help. That part of London has changed totally. Euston Sq. has vanished under the rebuilding of Euston Station so current ones are of no use. If you like historical true crime stories, you really should add this to your collection.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Karen M

    Tempted by the cover promising ‘ murder , scandal and insanity in Victorian Bloomsbury’ and remembering Mr Whicher and Rubenhold’s Five I was looking forward to finding out more about the seamier side of Victorian London. There is a lot of social history , a lot of detail about rents , and diversions to Germany, a lot of sweeping generalisations , and a vast amount of trying to get into a person’s mind and guess the how and why of feelings and motivations. It’s also hyperbolic in the extreme with Tempted by the cover promising ‘ murder , scandal and insanity in Victorian Bloomsbury’ and remembering Mr Whicher and Rubenhold’s Five I was looking forward to finding out more about the seamier side of Victorian London. There is a lot of social history , a lot of detail about rents , and diversions to Germany, a lot of sweeping generalisations , and a vast amount of trying to get into a person’s mind and guess the how and why of feelings and motivations. It’s also hyperbolic in the extreme with a gothic fascination emerging from the shadows.The final line of each chapter often takes on a life of its own - George Purkess and his penny dreadfuls would have approved but it lacks the fluency and immediacy of Summerscale and by the end I just wanted Holmes to appear and tell me what actually happened.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Patrica Liebe

    I wished for this book and my wish was granted and I decided to leave an honest review. I love a Victorian Murder Mystery and a true account virus a fictional account is even better. This story seemed to good to be true as there was many people who were suspect and I was kept guessing up to nearly the end when all was revealed. This visual descriptions were wonderful and it was almost like I was watching as the events were occurring. The author has written a wonderful and very entertaining story I wished for this book and my wish was granted and I decided to leave an honest review. I love a Victorian Murder Mystery and a true account virus a fictional account is even better. This story seemed to good to be true as there was many people who were suspect and I was kept guessing up to nearly the end when all was revealed. This visual descriptions were wonderful and it was almost like I was watching as the events were occurring. The author has written a wonderful and very entertaining story based on facts and researched that were gathered from a real murder case and it is a sterling account. This is one story I will read and reread. I do hope there will be more books like this from this author. I Thank NetGalley and Quarto Publishing - White Lion Publishers for gift me granting me my wish to read this book.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Merryl

    Whilst well-researched and well written this novel felt it was written by someone who has done too much research and wants to use it all…… I like my true crime books, to be just that - the crime and a bit of historical background for context but not so much that you’re skipping through paragraphs about extraneous information. I did like that the author took a position on the crime.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Joanne Tinkler (Mamajomakes)

    I’d like to thank Netgalley and White Lion Publishing for allowing me to read The Lady in the Cellar. I really enjoyed this book. The subject matter was very appealing as it combined my two favourite things - history and crime. The writer has done fabulous research and the characters and settings are brought to life through his writing. At times the book has a dark, macabre and menacing feel to it but I think that only makes the story more authentic. Overall, a good book the kept me entertained I’d like to thank Netgalley and White Lion Publishing for allowing me to read The Lady in the Cellar. I really enjoyed this book. The subject matter was very appealing as it combined my two favourite things - history and crime. The writer has done fabulous research and the characters and settings are brought to life through his writing. At times the book has a dark, macabre and menacing feel to it but I think that only makes the story more authentic. Overall, a good book the kept me entertained and interested throughout.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Contrary Reader

    What a compelling retrospective of an intriguing Victorian Murder mystery. Artfully constructed and explored- keeping your attention rapt as you explore the twists and turns. Who put that body in the coal cellar?

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